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An endless summer under the chestnut tress—Este11

The Lake Feneketlen (‘Botomless Lake’) area has become increasingly popular in recent years with the locals and Budapesters alike. Although it’s not far from the noisy hustle and bustle of Móricz Zsigmond Circus and Újbuda-Centrum, the lake’s surroundings are a haven of peace where one can bask in the setting sun: now, instead of sitting on weary benches, you can finally enjoy this sense of freedom accompanied by cooling cocktails and lemonades at the recently opened Este11.

Tamás Fazekas is an old hand in the gastro scene. He is partly responsible for the operational management of 360 BAR, where he has been present from almost the very beginning—one of the first and now cult rooftop bars in Budapest, which launched with a unique winter concept thanks to his idea. Always open to new ideas, Tamás was delighted when he was approached, almost by chance, by the owner of a tennis club on the corner of Villányi út and Lake Feneketlen. Behind the building lies a large garden, which had been standing idle and unkempt for years. It was neither aesthetically pleasing nor significant enough for the atmosphere of the lake and the club, so they thought it might be worth transforming it and bringing it to life, with all necessary ingredients being at hand.

The idea was soon followed by action and, after three months of hard work, Este11 was opened. First, the garden had to be cleaned up in consultation with the district and landscape architects, while leaving the trees intact. Then came the furniture, including the bar, DJ booth, tables, and chairs, with the help of My Wood Design. With Imre Rimóczi, Ambrus Törőcsik and Andrea Juhász, the architects who have been working with Budapest Park for many years, they felt it was important to match the character of the place and preserve something of its past—so some of the original pieces (such as old chairs) were restored and left in the garden. As they knew that the space would also function as a decent party venue, in addition to being a bar, they paid special attention to the sound system. The aim was not to create a gig that would resound through the whole of Újbuda, on the contrary, they used clever solutions (such as limiters or Stratocell® insulation) to create a well-soundproofed yet acoustically outstanding space that provides a great music experience inside, but is almost inaudible a bit further away. They were keen to avoid disturbing the residents in the area, so they could create a proper core community. The striking design is by Hidden Characters, while the marketing communications are by Skillcom, so all the elements fell into place.

The garden doesn’t look huge, but it can accommodate 230 people comfortably. There’s a cozy, hidden oasis feeling as you sit down at a table in the shade of the huge chestnut tree in the middle, waiting for a drink. The Este11 is organically integrated into the curve of Lake Feneketlen, both private and open, so one can hide away here and still be part of the buzz. It’s perfect for a quiet, chatty afternoon meeting as well as an evening dance. And while you’re at it, you won’t go hungry, with a selection of foods and drinks to choose from. Tamás and his team clearly followed the principle of ’less is sometimes more’ and only took on what they knew they could deliver in high quality. They had previously experimented with the art of BBQ at Hello Buda and, having grown to love the taste and smell of smoke, they acquired a pit box for here as well. The delicacies on the menu are prepared in this smoker for 7-8 hours long: you can taste pulled pork sandwiches, crispy chicken wings, juicy ribs accompanied by coleslaw, all with a child’s smudgy smile on your face, and if you prefer a more sophisticated meal, you can try one of the salads. There is no vegan option on the menu at the moment, but as they received many requests for it, we can expect the menu to change. The beverage selection is also intriguing, with small and large Hungarian wineries offering their wines, accompanied by long drinks and lemonades to help set the summer mood.

Although Este11 is still a new arrival, it seems to have already found its audience. Neither in profile nor location does it compete with the gastro-buzz of Bartók Béla Road, nor does it want to—with so many good cafés and restaurants, the 11th district will only be a better place. They are open to criticism and open to change, so they will certainly come up with many-a new things. As it is a garden restaurant, they are focusing on the summer for now, but have not abandoned the idea of a year-round operation with a secret creative solution. So, it seems like, there may be a new ‘hot-spot’ around the lake this winter to warm you up, but in the meantime, head to Este11 while the days are long and the nights are warm—even after 11 pm.

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Photos: Bertalan Soós

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